Wednesday, 30 December 2015

ON EXERCISE . . .

I've never been very good at sticking to exercise.

I've actually been, remarkably, doing my weekly pole fitness class since 2011 now, but that is the only definite regular exercise I get. Since I started seeing the fella, I rarely walk to work and back anymore, and I always had that 5 mile round trip five days a week to keep me relatively trim and any further exercise I did on top of that and pole fitness was a bonus.

This year, as I mentioned in my previous post I'm determined I am going to exercise more. I've been a member of Julia Buckley's online gym for a while now but this time I'm getting serious. I have decided that, in order to hold myself accountable, I am going to actually get in regular posts with regards to my progress and how often I am actually doing the exercise.

There are tons of online workout videos on Julia's site as well as some amazing recipes and an amazing online community supporting each other. I intend to take full advantage of that and make sure that 2016 is the year I actually shape up.

Oh, and if you are interested yourself in joining the website, it's currently less than ten pounds a month to join.

I used to pay more than that for the gym on a monthly basis... and I genuinely have used this website more in the last year than I ever used the gym.

I'll let you know how I get on... and if you do join, please feel free to add me on there - I'm pollypoptart.

C'mon 2016!!!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

2016 . . . THE YEAR I (FINALLY) GET MY SHIT TOGETHER???

So 2015 is nearly over... so it's obviously time to think of what resolutions we can set ourselves and probably ultimately break within a matter of days into 2016.  Here are mine . . .

1) Cook more.
I've done pretty well this year (I think I have pretty much nailed my chilli recipe now), but I still am terrified of recipes with more than about ten ingredients. I want to step out of my cooking comfort zone and find some new recipes that I can try and then perfect. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

2) Exercise more.
This year has been pretty rubbish for me in terms of exercise but I need to start fitting it into my life more. I joined an online gym at the end of last year and kept up the workouts for most of January but then I just slipped back into my lazy ways. This year I am going to do my best to keep it up, and aim to get a workout in at least three times a week, as well as my pole fitness class, and start to walk more again. I might document my progress here as maybe that will hold me accountable. We'll see  . . .

3) See even more of Scotland.
You'll know from my Scotland the Beautiful posts that me and the fella love travelling around Scotland. There's still so much I want to see though - so many islands for a start! I'd like to visit at least another few islands next year, after falling in love with Skye earlier on this year. I wouldn't mind going back and revisiting the North Coast 500 either, which we drove in its entirety this year - there were some places we missed that I would like to see, and I'd love to go back to Ullapool as it was so pretty. First up though will be a trip to Tarbert (I got the fella a deal for Christmas) and also a trip on the Strathspey Railway up in Aviemore (the fella got me a deal for Christmas). I'll keep you updated via the Scotland the Beautiful posts though!

4) Blog more
Speaking of blogging, I want to get back to more regular posting. I have a list I regularly add to of blog ideas on an app on my phone - I need to actually start expanding on the list and actually writing the posts! Even if I can try and blog a minimum of once a week that would be a good thing to aim for. I don't want you all to forget about me after all.

5) Save some money
I'm 36 years old ffs... this is the year I need to pay off the credit card I stupidly got in 2014 and actually have some semblance of savings so that I'm not relying on my overdraft or aforementioned credit card every time I want to get away on a holiday. I've got some plans to sell a lot of my dvds, cds and dresses that I've never worn that don't fit so hopefully that will be a way to build up a little savings buffer... and then I need to start trying to put a bit away on a monthly basis.

I don't think these are entirely unrealistic resolutions... Hoping I can stick to a couple of them if not all anyway! Wish me luck. :-)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: GLEN ETIVE . . .


Happy Christmas Eve, folks! Can you believe it's came around again already?

For an early Christmas present, I've decided to give you yet another post from my Scotland the Beautiful series . . . this is a place we finally visited in September of this year, after driving past the road for it many times and writing it off due to bad weather. Amazingly we chose the perfect day for it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . Glen Etive.




There are peaks and troughs, earth and waterfalls . . .  and a lovely little loch at the end of your drive. What more can you ask for?



If you're heading towards Fort William via Glen Coe, it's a nice little trip to add on if visibility is good. You'll start to see signs before you get to Glen Coe and then you hang left and into a glorious valley.



He strikes a bonny pose, eh?







That loch but . . .





Love a wee loch pose, so I do.


Maybe you haven't heard of Glen Etive before now? But is that a bad thing?

I'd recommend you get to know it.

Maybe you already know it more than you think . . . apparently it featured in the James Bond film "Skyfall". So perhaps you've seen it before and you just didn't realise!!!

Some more info about the glen and its attractions can be found here and here.

And if you haven't previously checked out some of the hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems I've found in Scotland over the past few years, please don't hesitate to check them out here.  I promise there's some good 'uns there! ;-)

Friday, 18 December 2015

TV "ADVERTS" THAT MAKE ME STABBY . . .

I've always kinda loved infomercials . . . they're a guilty pleasure if there is literally nothing else on the tv except for news and sport. But there is a recent breed of shorter infomercial which is ruining my morning tv viewing while I get ready for work, and I want to take this opportunity to have a bit of a rant about it.

I pretty much exclusively watch E4 (or E4 +1 depending how late I'm running) in the morning while I'm getting ready. At the moment this has involved double episodes of "Charmed" which is by the way one of my favourite ever TV shows. As in I owned half the boxsets at one point and have seen every episode numerous times but am still over-the-moon that I can watch it every single weekday morning, providing I'm out of bed in time.

Over the last year or so though, the ad breaks, which used to be short and sweet, have involved the same series of mind-numbing long adverts over and over again. 

The Nono pro. Is it all one word? Is it two? Do I care? I just want it off my screen! How many ways can you say "it removes hair without any pain"? I've lost count in this advert. Their tactic seems to be "let's get lots of people to say the same thing over and over again but not tell anyone how the product actually works". I am happy for the dude who feels like he can now go to the beach and is willing to take his shirt off though - he does look like it's quite the weight off his shoulders.

Proactiv Plus - This is the one where Nicole Scherzerthingwibob from the Pussycat Dolls pretends to be just like the rest of us. She knows what it's like to have bad skin, she tells us all, as screen highlights one spot on her otherwise perfect face. Throughout the rest of the advert, she convinces us to buy the product that allegedly helps her, with a completely spot-free and perfect face throughout, telling us how great it is when you don't need to worry about your skin!!! Don't get me wrong, I've had bouts of bad skin throughout my life, and it isn't fucking great, but having better skin wasn't the solution to the rest of my problems. I'm not saying that the company shouldn't advertise the product but WHY DO THEY HAVE TO MAKE IT SO LONG??? And does Nicole really have to be so damn cheesy and so annoyingly perfect throughout it? (Apart from that one spot, obviously!)

Last up, we have the . . . I think it's called the Pure Skin Gold or something ridiculous like that. Now that is basically, from what I can gather, a lot like the Nonopro . . . but its big selling point??? MARTINE MCCUTCHEON is in the advert raving on about how it makes her skin feel amazing. Oh well, if Martine is on board with it, then it's a must-have for me. (Can you imagine how much I'm rolling my eyes as I type that?) She has never felt so beautiful apparently! My favourite part of this advert though is when they bring a group of women together to talk about how great it is - it's deliciously awkward. They start the conversation by one of the girls saying to the others "so . . . have you tried it?" WELL, IF THEY HADN'T, THEN WHY ARE THEY THERE TO DISCUSS IT??? The same girl then goes on to talk about how she doesn't need to "manage" her hair anymore because the product does it for her . . . surely she still has to operate it?

I think the thing that gets to me most about these three product adverts is that they're placed smack bang in the middle of shows featuring beautiful women like Alyssa Milano or Rose McGowan, who you're already probably going to be feeling inferior to. Especially first thing in the morning when you haven't managed to wake up properly, and are trying 1) not to feel like a zombie and 2) make yourself look remotely human. When these products first started appearing on my tv screen it was on morning E4 repeats of "Made in Chelsea" so that was actually even worse than "Charmed" as the girls on MIC are so disgustingly young, whereas you can at least console yourself with the fact that Alyssa and Rose are a wee bit older these days.

So I have to admit that despite my anger with the products, the placement of the adverts, and the contents of the adverts I am also angry because of how they make me feel. And that I am letting them make me feel this way.

And if a Nonopro is not a laser and not a razor.... THEN HOW IS IT THAT YOU CAN RAMBLE ON ABOUT IT FOR FIVE MINUTES WITHOUT TELLING ME WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS???

I'm not sure which one of those adverts I hate more.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

CHILLY WEATHER REQUIRES CHILLI . . .


As winter kicks in, I crave comfort food and stodge . . . one of my favourite cold night meals in the past few years has been chilli con carne, but it's turned into a bit of an obsession over the last few weeks. This probably coincided with me trying it with chocolate added to it for the first time. Oh my goodness, talk about a taste sensation!

Anyway, chilli con carne is ace and I'm now here to share my current favourite recipe for it. Because I'm nice like that. And it's delicious but, nearly as importantly, not difficult to make!!!


This recipe will serve between two and four depending on 1) how you choose to serve it and 2) how greedy you are!


Ingredients
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (garlic powder can do at a pinch)
  • Any other veg you want to use (I usually use mushroom, peppers and occasionally, if I can be arsed, some grated carrot)
  • Tin or carton of tomatoes (approx. 400g - I usually use one with either chilli or herbs)
  • Approx half a tube of tomato puree
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Hot chilli powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Salt and pepper (optional, to taste)
  • Herbs (I used oregano and basil - because that's what was in the fella's cupboard)
  • Kidney beans (optional)
  • Dark chocolate (I used six small squares of Green and Black's 85% dark chocolate)
The Method
  1. Chop up the onions and garlic, and fry them up in a pan. Enjoy the amazing smell. This is just the beginning. I promise.
  2. Chuck the mince in and brown. Keep an eye on this while chopping up the rest of your veg.
  3. Throw in the veg and add the chopped tomatoes. I usually then half fill the tomato carton or tin with cold water and add that to the pan, followed by the stock cube.
  4. Once that's all mixed together, it's now time to spice it up. Add a sprinkling of herbs, a teaspoon of hot chilli powder, paprika, cumin and coriander. Salt and pepper to taste, if you want. Mix in, add some more chilli powder. In total, I usually use between 2 and 3 teaspoons of chilli powder but it's completely up to your taste.
  5. Squeeze in around half a tube of tomato puree, once this is absorbed in, drain the tin of kidney beans (I use a small tin and often forget to add them) and throw them in too. Add some more chilli powder if you want. (Don't feel like you have to though. You may want to do a quick taste test to see if you want more or have already overdone it.) Leave to simmer away for as long as you want, just making sure that it's not burning.
  6. Once you're nearly ready to serve up, add the chocolate and make sure it's melted and mixed in well.

And now you can eat! Serve however you want - I actually tend to just have mine with some grated cheese and sour cream/natural yogurt. If you do it that way you're probably only going to get two (large) portions out of the chilli mixture. Other alternatives though to make it go further? Baked potato and chilli. Chilli with rice. Spoon it into tortillas and make chilli beef fajitas. Enchiladas. Chilli nachos.

All delicious options. I thoroughly endorse them all. And I always wholeheartedly recommend the addition of cheese. Because... cheese!

Just make it. Okay?